Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Battle of Unter-Schweingau = Perspective of GeneralMajor Wlodzimierz Borowczyk

A proxy battle from the Emperor vs. Elector blog for the Landgraviate of Ober-Schweinsberg .

The map looked like this setup on the table:

There was a 'neutral' witness to all the goings-on, one Princess.

The Orbats can be found at Landgraviate of Ober-Schweinsberg .

GeneralMajor Wlodzimierz Borowczyk ended up being my command and I chose to take the most 'open' section of ground to attack from and set up my column as: Infantry Brigade under Fabarbock, Command following with medium battery (12-pounder gun = it could be rated either way but we chose to make it medium rather than heavy). Next was the light cavalry under Andress, then Kinski's Infantry brigade and finally the Horse. A 'flank force' of the "French Brigade" was sent with a light gun to secure the western mountain pass and then press-on advancing towards the town.

Then Borowczyk got his 'final orders' :
Secure the mountain pass (west side of map) and envelop town, allow none to escape, secure town until sunset (game end?).

Meanwhile the defenders had deployed, mostly facing west (as expected) with a curious cavalry deployment to the north.


(we later learned that the 'secret orders' for the defenders were:
Secure the river crossing (east side of map) and escape any units possible to the west beyond the mountain pass before sunset (game end?).
This is mentioned so that the reader can better understand (?) the decisions of Peter my erstwhile opponent.)

My columns began to arrive, no cause for alarm on the part of Faberbock, for he quickly determined that "LO it was the 3rd Infantry Brigade!" the one that his Black Brigade had defeated once before.
As an added bonus they were facing the wrong way!

The first to face testing from the black flagged Schwarze Eber Fusiliers were the militia brigade. Poor old Storch! He 'misinterpreted' his hold orders as 'delay'...the day was going from bad to worse as the militia were going to face the main attack first and they were not told this!

Borowczyk, the skirmishers and guns arrive. Skirmish forces sent off to the west to 'screen' the arriving other infantry brigades, the guns being sent to the east to 'have-at' any fleeing troops. Then came the light cavalry, forced to ride wide around the guns.

Meanwhile the defenders had been busy sending off a single messenger to the bridge crossing to call forwards the foraging infantry and re-deploying their "Horse" so as to cover the south side of the road.

At the point of firing, the black brigade was called to hold fire and resume a slow advance towards the town. The defenders had taken a single volley at them (and missed!) then came the incredible order to withdraw into the town! The Irish Guard could be heard cursing loudly even from the distance of Borowczyk's lines! Again poor old Storch could not understand the withdraw orders - especially in light of the close presence of large numbers of enemy musket companies! Moments later another messenger came from Peter...this time Storch was to advance towards that formation of musketeers. At least this made some sense, even poor old Storch managed to 'get it'!

Now Schwarze Eber Fusiliers came into musket range of the militia, now they started to take casualties. While rallying they noticed that ALL of Asgar's council was fleeing the town, with some dozen of them bailing out of windows and side doors of a block of flats...one of them not fully dressed with his shirt tails hanging out and suspenders flying free as he jumped over a fence and landed in a muddy field. (seen in the above image with the "yellow" backs on their stands)

The rest of the black brigade now began to fire at the retreating 3rd Brigade [they had gone into the homes in the town - buildings were removed as each was determined to be able to 'hold' three companies each]. While the casualties were not high they did continue to discomfit the troops separated from their officers. The whole time they withdrew and even into the buildings the Irish curses contintued to flow...it was almost an hour of this before the Irish calmed down [they had found the wine cellar!].

At long last the skirmishers had reached effective range on the fleeing 3rd Brigade and began to take down sergeants (as the officers had all already fled). This added to the confusion for the 7th line whom had lost some men to the volley fire from the Black Brigade.

The militia and Dieterlestadt Grenadiers were nearly in position, but along the way the militia had lost 300+ men and after watching the Asgar "council" flee were in a foul mood (the Grenadiers had even been prepared to 'set bayonettes').

TURNING POINT

The light cavalry under Andress had been permitted to take a small knoll on the west side of the river far to the left flank of the now re-deployed Horse. Unfortunately for the troopers of Murnau they were in clear range of the medium Artillery of Borowczyk. The guns began a merciless pounding of first the Horse Grenadiers (whom began to try and get out of range), they lost nearly half their strength before falling back far enough to be 'out of view' to the gunners. The battery then switched to fire ENFILADE into the packed ranks of the Franka Dragoons whom also lost half their strength, all in one series of shell-packed explosions! [the penalty for ENFILADE fire into formed units from artillery is to re-roll misses - I rolled 2 sixes in the first three dice and the re-roll five was enough to utterly shatter the morale of the Dragoons]

These same artillery shocked Dragoons were then charged by the Bandauer Hussars.

The very same moment this charge was sweeping home the lone messenger that had tried to slip between the two formations of cavalry commanded by Brigadier Hans Andress had been caught by the Puchalski Lancers. Andress quickly determined what the mission the ADC was on and thinking fast he 'rewrote' the orders to the Asgar light cavalry so as to keep them 'guarding' the south road. Andress then moved the dispatch case and its new 'contents' along with the coat of the messenger to the body of one of the troopers of the Puchalski Lancers, this man being istructed to simply approach the light cavalry force and hand over his 'dispatch'.

In the town the Irish Guard was now taking casualties, though managing to fire back at the skirmishers, however they could clearly see that the "French Brigade" had arrived and was even now rushing headlong in columns into the town. Brigadier Jean-Louis d'Civeyrac had interpreted his orders from advance to attack, and was even now pressing forward leading the Leterrier Musketeers personally! The 7th Line had already broken due to taking some 120 casualties and were sent into flight to the east of the town.

Kinski's brigade had arrived during the intervening period and found that there were no enemy to fight! Borowczyk was present (literally standing right behind Kinski) and simply gave new advance orders to pass south of the town and re-form lines to the south of the cross-roads on the east side and then assault the bridge and any defenders!

At those cross-roads the battle was ending.

The Bandauer Hussars had completely destroyed the Franka Dragoons whom had not the ability to face them after the pounding inflicted by the artillery. The Hussars then pressed on into the head of the fleeing 7th Line and into the flanks of the Von Trotta Horse Grenadiers and the one 6-pound medium battery. Though separated the Hussars managed to butcher the Horse Grenadiers (still not fully recovered from thier own artillery poundings) and smashed three companies of the 7th Line; sending the remains fleeing back into the town. The only good fight managed to be put up by the medium battery, while they lost some 1/3 of their men doing it, the Hussars were just too spent to manage to succeed in three directions at once!

Meanwhile the Lancer 'messenger in disguise' continued to head towards the Asgar light horse now visible in the distance to the south. In the altogether the Horse of Arnold had also arrived and was now pressing on to the east, in an effort to cut off any survivors from the town.

Now the rest of the Puchalski Lancers joined in the cavalry melee, putting the remains of the Von Trotta Horse Grenadiers to flight and pressing on into the exposed flank of the Margarethe Dragoons.
The Dragoons were caught totally ENFILADE and standing still. Though their commander, Brigadier Klaus Murnau, would eventually join the fray personally they were unable to stem the tide of red-clad horsemen and their lances! This was the end of the Murnau Heavy Cavalry Brigade as not one of them would leave the battlefield in any organized force. The remains of the Bandauer Hussars pursued the battle colours and scattered remnants of the 7th Line into the town. Thinking themselves safe from the spent horsemen, they emerged into the town square to find Brigadier Jean-Louis d'Civeyrac and the Leterrier Musketeers charging in the other way! All of them surrendered without further contest.

Scrambling from the town to the north was the 8th Line and grumbling out hurling curses was the Irish Guard (whom had only lost some 50 men, but much was their pride wounded at having to flee in the face of the enemy).

With the light fading in the west Borowczyk dispatched an ADC to entreat with the Irishmen to stop supporting the cause of Asgar and be returned to a 'real' fighting capacity. Upon reaching their re-forming ranks (which had been left behind to cover the re-forming 8th Line), the ADC delivered this message which was met with respect, understanding and after looking at the general chaos both at the bridge and beyond it, the Shannon's Irish Guard commander chose to remain and celebrate this night with their old comrades in the service of the true Landgrave, Arnold.

Along the south flank Andress rolled the die one more time and tried his own coup with his opposite number, Brigadier Sebastian Boll, he pointed out that all of the Heavies were now dead and that the only way back to Asgar was to make a difficult mountain trek. Boll would not be swayed and withdrew from this conversation, at last light was seen making his way south.

The Unter-Schweingau Militia had started the day with some 360 men, now reduced to 75 effectives they all swore that they would serve only Arnold, as Generalmajor Wlodzimierz Borowczyk offered them a choice of service remaining here in their homes, or facing a 're-patriation' to Asgar.

Overall Borowczyk achieved 3 of his 4 conditions. Additionally he convinced the Irish Guard and town Militia to change sides in this civil war.

Peter did achieve both parts of his orders, so tactically he was the winner. However in the context of the wider war this was a pell-mell retreat with greivous losses (the entire Horse was lost) and some embarrasing turn-coating (the Irish Guard).

13 comments:

abdul666 said...

Wow! Agreat battle, and a great battle report, marvelously illustrated: compliments and thanks!

Jean-Louis

Bluebear Jeff said...

Due to the different "army goals" it was an odd battle to watch, since it was far more a battle of maneuver rather than of firing or combat.

Of course, historically this is a far more common type of battle than we see on the table top.

I'm sure that it was more fun for Murdock (pressing his attack) than for Pete (having to try and extricate his forces from a very awkward situation).

As always, Murdock did a great job with his photos and his report.

Bravo!


-- Jeff

Grimsby Mariner said...

Nice work and great write up.

Stokes Schwartz said...

Hello Murdock,

I agree with the others -- A great battle narrative and an especially nice display of figures and terrain. Where did you find the buildings?

Best Regards,

Stokes

MurdocK said...

Thank you gents.

The pics are something that really helps to "tell" the story.

I agree with Jeff that the nature of the battle was something much more 'historically accurate'. There are fewer accounts of the 'run away' little battles that add-up to the greater campaigns.

The lesson from this battle was to ensure that you have decided whom is to perform that "Rear Guard" function. For without someone doing it, it will end up in the lap of a commander unprepared for the task. As in this case the 7th getting butchered while counter-retreating, the 8th running in chaos and the Irish Guard, left holding the bag...

Stokes, the tabletop display was Jeff's and from what I could determine the 'buildings' were from a christmas display.

Snickering Corpses said...

Beautiful, Murdock. Great job with the battle report and the photos as well. I thought the eye-level shots were interesting, particularly.

Am I right in seeing that you used two flags per battalion, one that remained on the unit stand to identify it, and one for Jeff's morale marker?

Which units lost their standards, and do we know which unit captured them? Do y'all have a way you usually determine this?

Snickering Corpses said...

Pete seems to have done a fine job of handling the situation he found himself in, particularly given the attempt to manage a withdrawal while encumbered with some very contrary commanders. It certainly highlights the effect of your Order Interpretation system, Jeff.

Bluebear Jeff said...

Stokes,

Murdock is correct. The buildings were ceramic "Christmas Village" types . . . with snow flocked roofs.

I repainted the roofing (covering the snow). If you look carefully, you will find that the buildings include three "pairs" . . . that is identical buildings that I simply painted with different roof colors.

I also painted over the garish Christmas decorations on them . . . but didn't have time (I was doing it the night before the battle) to paint over the snow on the bases or to cover the foliage with flocking.

If you keep your eyes open, you can find buildings like these for a buck or two.


-- Jeff

Fitz-Badger said...

Great report, nice pics and all! The various battle reports are getting me fired up to have a go myself - when I do it'll be a solo game with a fairly small number of minis/units (not sure when yet). Thanks!

Frankfurter said...

Nice fun!
and not too many units for the table ... my most frequent error! lol
a

MurdocK said...

Jonathan,

I used two flags where I had the units 'set-up' for that system.

So about 1/2 had the 'double-flags' as I only started setting things up for Jeff's TCW a couple of years ago and the older units did not have the 'spare' standard bearers.

There is a system within TCW for capture of standards, but the fights were so fast and furious (and we did not know of your desire to track the 'chances') that we did not track them.

I think that the dragoons that got shot up then run over by the Hussars would have lost their standard for certain.

The Von Trotta have a 50% chance of getting away with their standard (unless you think that the scattered Hussars still looting dragoons would have any impact on a fleeing Horse standard bearer).

The other dragoons were totally cut off and faught nearly to the last man, but were surrounded by nearly two layers of units on all sides when they were defeated, so I think that their standard was taken also, though not without a lot of bloodshed.

The 7th Line was beat up, ran away, started to rally, then got run over by the Hussars, fled back into the town only to find "French" forces running at them. I think that they laid their banner down in the street and asked to join the drinking party after the battle...

You could read that another way if you like though.

The failing that Peter had was in not determining *early on* which command was to do the 'rear-guard' function. Had he done this my job would have been harder.

The other was in not sending off BOTH ADC's right away to call for the foraging troops, again was this done there would not have been the losses to the Horse that were suffered and the south road would likely have become a massive cavalry tangle-brawl!

Steve said...

Good looking game and it looks like you had fun as well.. result!

tidders said...

Great battle report. Quite an interesting scenario as well.

-- Allan